O Mosy Quince
O MOSY QUINCE: NOTESAbbreviations: see the Introduction to the Antifeminist Tradition
1 quince. A yellow, acidic, pear-shaped fruit, used for preserves.
8-14 This inserted proverbial digression (IMEV 4230), sometimes known as Four Things That Make a Man a Fool and Saying of Dan John, is usually traced back to Lydgate. The popular rhyme royal stanza is extant in various forms, some lacking the antifeminist sting and counseling instead that one practice humility (see Four Things That Make a Man a Fool and Yet of the Same). Stow omits this stanza from his 1561 print of the poem.
16 grene eyen. Pale, colorless, or livid; the color green is often associated with inconstancy and envy.
17 enbolned. T: enbonyd. I have emended with Stow's correction, the past participle of enbolnen, to swell (with anger or pride); i.e., her cheeks are puffy or swollen like a ripe apple.
19 gylt. Covered with a thin coating of gold (and thus concealing defects).
opon warantyse. For certain, without fail.
20 bawsyn-buttockyd. The "bawsyn" is a badger, but here the term implies fat or broad.
21 Seynt Barbara. Patron saint in times of danger from thunderstorms and fire and protector of artillery men, miners, firework makers, architects, builders. Therefore, an explosive declaration. Person (Cambridge Middle English Lyrics, p. 79) suggests a possible play on gown/gun (or, possibly, fart).
22 lewde. The adjective has several connotations, none complimentary: foolish, common, uneducated, unrefined, idle, dishonest, and lascivious.
24 flowre of the barkfate. A barkfat is a vat for tanning; therefore, odiferous and dried up or crusty. Note the unusual tanning metaphors throughout this stanza through which he compares his lady to a hide turned into leather.
25 is. T: hit. Stow's correction
O mosy quince, hangyng by your stalke,
The whyche no man dar pluk away ner take,
Of all the folk that passe forby or walke,
Your flowres fresshe be fallyn away and shake.
I am ryght sory, masteras, for your sake,
Ye seme a thyng that all men have forgotyn;
Ye be so rype ye wex almost rotyn.
Wyne, women, worshyp, unweldy age,
Make men to fonne for lak in theyr resons:
Elde causeth dulnesse and dotage,
And worshyp, chaunge of condicions;
Excesse of wyne blyndeth theyre dyscrecions,
And all bookes that poetes made and radde
Seyen women most make men madde!
Youre ugly chere deynous and froward,
Youre grene eyen frownyng and nat glad,
Yowre chekes enbolned lyke a melow costard,
Colour of orenge your brestys satournad,
Gylt, opon warantyse, the colour wyll nat fade;
Bawsyn-buttockyd, belyed lyke a tonne,
Men cry, "Seynt Barbara!" at lowsyng of your gonne.
My lovely lewde masterasse, take consideracion,
I am so sorowfull there as ye be absent;
The flowre of the barkfate, the fowlyst of all the nacion --
To love yow but a lytyll is myne entent.
The swert hath y-swent yow, the smoke hath yow shent;
I trowe ye have be layde opon som kylne to dry.
Ye do me so moche worshyp there as ye be present;
Of all wemen I love yow best. A thowsand tymes fy!
mossy fruit; (see note)
honor, enfeebled; (see note)
scornful and bellicose
eyes; (see note)
swollen; ripe apple; (see note)
Painted, without fail; (see note)
Badger-assed, bellied; cask; (see note)
loosening; gown (gun or organ); (see note)
tanning vat; (see note)
flame; struck; spoiled